Saturday, April 30, 2016

The Miracle of Biblical Rest

Matthew 11:28-30 “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.”

Continuing in our Sunday Sermon series on “Miracles”, Pastor Kyle reminded us that we live in a crazy, chaotic world. Busyness is the theme for today. We tend to tell ourselves that “next time, things will be easier, lighter and better. But, if we do not intentionally make time for rest and take time to rest, we won’t find it. We need to seek rest, fight for rest, grasp moments for rest and then truly rest.

Genesis 2:2-3 “By the seventh day God had finished the work he had been doing; so on the seventh day he rested from all his work. 3 Then God blessed the seventh day and made it holy, because on it he rested from all the work of creating that he had done.”

God nurses us back to “supportive” health to heal, refresh and be well ... physically, mentally and spiritually. Kyle gave us five ways how to keep the miracle of biblical rest alive in our lives. (1) Don’t underestimate the power of eating well, drinking lots of water, and sleeping regularly. Like Elijah in 1 Kings 19:1-18, we need food, drink & rest for our bodies to have strength and function properly, otherwise we’ll find ourselves stressed, tired and flat worn out. Do not ignore your body; the temple of the Holy Spirit and an irreplaceable gift from God. Set things aside and take care of yourself or else you will struggle. Hungry, thirsty and tired Christians are not effective at reaching the world around them. Also, the body needs exercise. Our physiology affects our spirituality and vise-versa. (2) Fatigue and hunger distort our perspective on just about everything!  We just don’t see clearly or think straight. We lose our sense of self-awareness and start believing lies about ourselves and others at those times. We are not prepared to confront the real adversary in spite of recent victories, ignore the good and godly things going on around, forget the courageous actions of others, blame others for attacks against them, and feel utterly isolated in their very real struggles. This despair demonstrates the frailty of human strength and the power of God which is liberating within human weakness. The glass is half full and the view is cloudy at best. We need rest and to feel the warmth of God’s loving arms.

Psalm 4:8 “In peace I will lie down and take rest, for you alone, Lord, make me dwell in safety.”

(3) Sometimes the problem isn’t fatigue; it is a whining person who is lazy. Work is a part of life. We already read in Genesis 2 that God works. Ephesians 2:10 says, “For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.” We cannot use the term exhaustion as a “cop out” to get ourselves out of what the Lord wants us to do ... to show up on time and give a full day of our best effort every time, at home and at our job. We have to get it straight that we are not here to please ourselves or to please “them”, but please “Him”. A job is a blessing. Do your duty and give 100% of yourself, 100% of the time. (4) Clear out the noise regularly! God’s voice is not in the chaotic distractions in our lives, but that noise can rob us from hearing God’s voice. It’s hard to hear a still small voice while there are so many loud speakers blaring in our ears. A manipulating application creates a persistent routine with internal triggers that disturb and disrupts our attention. Captivation to noise is far from rest. Has the voice of God grown dull in our lives?

Mark 6:31 He said to them, “Come with me by yourselves to a quiet place and get some rest.”

(5) Schedule Margin. Establish edges and boundaries in your life. Create time periods with nothing on the schedule away from the noise and distractions of a busy life. Margin won’t schedule itself. We tend to fill every vacant time slot in our day planner. Slow down and intentionally make “down time” (aka “rest”) for yourself. Find your Sabbath to hear from God in rest and quiet pray, casting your cares upon the Lord. Faith is a gift. The miracle of biblical rest is for you and me.

Psalm 37:7 ”Rest in the Lord, and wait patiently for Him.”

In Christ, Brian 

Friday, April 29, 2016

In God's Family


1 John 3:1Behold what manner of love the Father has bestowed on us, that we should be called children of God! Therefore the world does not know us, because it did not know Him.”


One of the most motivating truths of the Bible is the doctrine that we become sons and daughters of God when we are born again through faith in Christ. This first hit me when I read the “prologue” in chapter one of the gospel according to John for the first time. John 1:12 But as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God, to those who believe in His name.” An immediate connection to “Father” God was validated and the whole relationship of brothers and sisters in Christ filled with meaning in the bond of family ties. God then deals with us as a father does with his beloved children. We should therefore respond as obedient children who love their father.


I’ve often told others that I see Father God as a loving and watchful parent, when I feel like a child running in a park as if I was free and wild. He would observe my every step and smile, but be there to the rescue with open arms the moment I wandered to far or there was a hint of potential danger. I read that an attribute of our sonship is brotherly love: 1 John 5:1 “Everyone who believes that Jesus is the Christ has become a child of God. And everyone who loves the Father loves his children, too.” Furthermore, each child of God should have a victorious faith. 1 John 5:4 “For everyone born of God overcomes the world. This is the victory that has overcome the world, even our faith.”


All who are truly children of God will never lose that holy relationship.

1 John 5:18 “We know that God’s children do not make a practice of sinning, for God’s Son holds them securely, and the evil one cannot touch them.”

John 10:28-29 “I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish; no one will snatch them out of my hand. My Father, who has given them to me, is greater than all; no one can snatch them out of my Father’s hand.”

There are many such references in the Bible. All stress that we should reflect the character of the Father in our lives as His children. I hope and pray that they bless you daily as you carry this sure faith and knowledge in your heart. You are in God’s family. The glorious, ultimate promise is this: 1 John 3:2 “Dear friends, now we are children of God, and what we will be has not yet been made known. But we know that when Christ appears, we shall be like him, for we shall see him as he is.”

In Christ, Brian 

Thursday, April 28, 2016

I will be with you

Isaiah 43:2 “When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; And through the rivers, they shall not overflow you. When you walk through the fire, you shall not be burned, nor shall the flame scorch you.”

During our Small Group Bible Study this week, we focused on the Bible story of Jesus walking on water and the apostle Peter sinking as he took his eyes off the Lord, lacked faith and doubted himself. I read a great little article on “real life” distractions that take our eyes and heart off the truth of the Almighty and eternal blessings. It pointed out that we live in a fallen world that is plagued by the effects of sin and the curse, where even the most godly Christian is subject to the ravages of disease, accident, old age, famine, drought, pestilence, and the sins and sinful choices of others.

Matthew 5:45 “For He makes His sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust.”

Despite how much we desire it not to be true, bad things happen. Many times our suffering is deserved due to the consequences of our personal sin or improper choices. The consequent suffering may be the direct result of our actions or may be the chastisement of God to correct our behavior. God may also bring difficulties into our lives to mold our character, making us more like His dear son or daughter. This way, we mature in faith.

Hebrews 12:9-10 “Moreover, we have all had human fathers who disciplined us and we respected them for it. How much more should we submit to the Father of spirits and live! They disciplined us for a little while as they thought best; but God disciplines us for our good, in order that we may share in his holiness.

The aspect is that whatever the cause, there are times when we must go through “deep waters.” But, the key detail that we tend to miss is that we do not face them alone, as the third verse of the great old Christian hymn “How Firm a Foundation” teaches: “When through the deep waters I call thee to go, the rivers of woe shall not thee overflow; For I will be with thee, thy troubles to bless, and sanctify to thee thy deepest distress.”

Deuteronomy 31:6 “Be strong and of good courage, do not fear nor be afraid of them; for the Lord your God, He is the One who goes with you. He will not leave you nor forsake you.”

God has not promised to keep our lives free from times of distress, but He has promised to be with us through them and to use them to bring about our ultimate sanctification. 

Matthew 28:20 “And be sure of this: I am with you always, even to the end of the age.”

In Christ, Brian

Wednesday, April 27, 2016

Hooked on a Feeling? Part 2 - His

Michael continues: The man of the flesh from a perspective of worldly wisdom thinks that "tolerance" means "please don't punish me for sin." However, to him that knows to do good and doesn't do it, to him it is sin. Everything not done in faith is sin. Sin is missing the mark of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus.  The child of God with a humble heart runs to God for forgiveness of sin. For if we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us of our sins and cleanse us from all unrighteousness. The devil's purpose is diametrically opposed to God's loving purpose ... the thief cometh not but for to steal, to kill, and to destroy. In contrast, Jesus Christ came that we might have life and have it more abundantly.  The spiritual battle is a matter of life and death. The choice is clear ... Choose life.

Jesus told his disciples a parable about three servants to whom he gave talents. One talent is 75 pounds of silver worth $18,000. The master gave his servants more than enough ... more than abundant funds to invest. The master challenged to his servants to make faith-based decisions to grow the Master's resources instead of a fear-based decision to bury the treasure.  Likewise, we have been given great and precious resources of His gift of Holy Spirit. How do we invest these spiritual resources to the glory of our Lord? The answer is to surrender our hearts to him ... I have been crucified with Christ, nevertheless I live, yet not I but Christ liveth in me and the life that I now live I live by the faith of the son of God who loved me and gave himself for me.

God has called His children to be holy. Holiness is to be set aside for the purpose intended by the designer. According to Ephesians 2:10, We are God's workmanship (Greek word “poema”) created in Christ Jesus unto good works which he has prepared in advance for us to walk in them. We are God's masterpiece, His poem, His great work. When we advance as His soldiers in the spiritual battle, as His ambassadors in the midst of crooked and perverse nation, as His stewards investing His resources into His eternal Kingdom, we are fulfilling the purpose for which He designed us. Our prayer is, "Oh Lord, make us the men and women that you designed us to be ...  Lord, come and help yourself to our lives."

Our feelings will deceive us. The reality is in aligning our hearts with our Heavenly Father's heart in prayer. He will open the eyes of our spiritual understanding so that we can see that reality is fellowship with the Father, His son Jesus Christ, and with one another in the household of Faith.

May God richly bless you!
Your brother in Christ,

Tuesday, April 26, 2016

Hooked on a Feeling? – The Devil’s Mark

Michael writes this week that when we were born again, God gave us a new spiritual nature. Therefore we have the spirit of God in Christ in us whether or not we feel like it. God has called us to a spiritual battle even if we don't feel like we're soldiers in the front lines of spiritual warfare. The war of the spirit is a reality, for we wrestle not against flesh and blood but against principalities and dominions; against the rulers of spiritual darkness in high places.

We are ambassadors for Christ. Therefore we pray you in Christ's stead be ye reconciled to GodFor God made Jesus Christ to be sin for us who knew no sin that we may be made the righteousness of God in Him.  Let your light so shine before men that they may see your good works and glorify your father which is in heaven.  According to 2 Corinthians 10, for though we walk in the flesh, we walk not according to the flesh.  For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal, but spiritual to the pulling down of spiritual strongholds.  Therefore, casting down imaginations and every high thing that exalteth itself against the knowledge of God, bring every thought captive to the obedience of Christ.

For everything in life there is a cause. There is always a spiritual cause behind the effects that we feel and see in the physical realm. The adversary (the devil) will say that reality is limited to the things that we feel with our senses and see with our physical eyes. However, the adversary hides in the realm of spiritual darkness where those who do not have the spirit of God cannot perceive. We must have our spiritual senses exercised to discern both good and evil. The wisdom of this earth is earthly, sensual and devilish. However, the wisdom that is from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, willing to yield, full of mercy and good fruits, without partiality and without hypocrisy. We must forsake our own pride and our own worldly wisdom in order to come to God with a meek and humble heart. He will open our eyes to see reality from a heavenly perspective with a spiritual awareness and perception. The eyes of your understanding being enlightened that you may know the hope of His calling and the riches of the glory of His inheritance of the saints.

Let’s continue Michael’s message on our next post tomorrow.

In Christ, Brian

Monday, April 25, 2016


Romans 12:1Therefore, I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God—this is your true and proper worship.” 

I read a devotional about the meaning of the lyrics in one of the great old Christian hymns and thought that the word study for the biblical word consecrate has been somewhat lost today. There is a good lesson here. This opening verse of Scripture speaks of total consecration to God. The 1828 Webster’s Dictionary defines this fifty cent word “consecration” as the act or ceremony of separating form a common to a sacred use, or of devoting and dedicating a person or thing to the service and worship of God, by certain rites or solemnities. Consecration does not make a person or thing really holy, but declares it to be sacred, that is, devoted to God or to divine service. A willing believer must come to the point where he or she totally commits everything to the Savior, trusting that He will transform it into that which is pleasing and useful to Him.

Joshua 3:5 “Consecrate yourselves, for tomorrow the Lord will do wonders among you.”

The precious Christian hymn “Take My Life and Let It Be” echoes the same thought. Take my life, and let it be consecrated, Lord, to Thee. Take my moments and my days, let them flow in ceaseless praise.” A grateful Christian so values the things of God that they will consecrate everything to Him, like the wise man in Christ’s parable: in Matthew 13:44 “The kingdom of heaven is like a treasure hidden in the field, which a man found and hid again; and from joy over it he goes and sells all that he has and buys that field.”

A consecrated life involves not only one’s possessions, but one’s entire life. Our choices and thoughts should always be made with Him and His priorities in mind. Ephesians 5:15-16 says: “Therefore be careful how you walk, not as unwise men but as wise, making the most of your time, because the days are evil. We have been redeemed from lives of sin and eternal damnation. Our Rescuer, the Lord Jesus, deserves our undying praise. There is no better use of our time and abilities. Like Hebrews 13:15 says, Through Him then, let us continually offer up a sacrifice of praise to God, that is, the fruit of lips that give thanks to His name.”

Who God is and what He’s done for you and I should never be forgotten or made light of. Is our life consecrated to the Lord?

In Christ, Brian

Sunday, April 24, 2016

No Doubt

Matthew 14:22-33 Immediately Jesus made the disciples get into the boat and go on ahead of him to the other side, while he dismissed the crowd. After he had dismissed them, he went up on a mountainside by himself to pray. Later that night, he was there alone, and the boat was already a considerable distance from land, buffeted by the waves because the wind was against it. Shortly before dawn Jesus went out to them, walking on the lake. When the disciples saw him walking on the lake, they were terrified. “It’s a ghost,” they said, and cried out in fear. But Jesus immediately said to them: “Take courage! It is I. Don’t be afraid.” “Lord, if it’s you,” Peter replied, “tell me to come to you on the water.” “Come,” he said. Then Peter got down out of the boat, walked on the water and came toward Jesus. But when he saw the wind, he was afraid and, beginning to sink, cried out, “Lord, save me!” Immediately Jesus reached out his hand and caught him. “You of little faith,” he said, “why did you doubt?” And when they climbed into the boat, the wind died down. Then those who were in the boat worshiped him, saying, “Truly you are the Son of God.”

In preparation for our upcoming Wednesday evening Small Group Bible Study lesson, the teacher Ray Vander Laan brought up a great point that when Peter doubted, he did not doubt Jesus. Peter sank, but Jesus did not. Peter, being a disciple of Jesus, not only wanted to know what Jesus knew, but also be like the Lord, asked to come. And Jesus granted his request but telling him to “come”. What Peter doubted was that he could be like Jesus. Whoever is a true disciple in Jesus must walk as Jesus walks. To follow the Lord, who walks on water, you have to have the faith to get out of the boat.

Hebrews 12:1-2 Therefore we also, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which so easily ensnares us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith, who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.

We tend to be impressed by what secular people make with their hands, and we find ourselves wanting to be like this. Yet, we pass right by this beautiful earth that God has made without taking a second look. In doing so, we find that we are just another one of them with a different god. Where is the glory? We are in the world, but not of the world. The temptations are always appealing and alluring, but the child of God puts the kingdom of Heaven and the Lord’s purposes first in priority despite the distractions of this world. No doubt.

Turn your eyes upon Jesus Look full in His wonderful face. And the things of Earth will grow strangely dim in the light of His glory and grace.

In Christ, Brian

Saturday, April 23, 2016

The Miracle of Faith

Romans 14:23 “For whatever is not from faith is sin.”

Pastor Kyle continues in his Sunday sermon series: “I need a miracle” stating that the way that God worked in Bible times is how He still works today and His miracles authenticate the words of the Bible. Isaiah 45:5 “I am the Lord, and there is no other; there is no God besides Me.” Because there is only one God, we shouldn’t speak of Him as “our” God (as if there were others), but as the Lord God. People can be sincerely devoted to some other god, but can be sincerely wrong. In serving the wrong god, there will be no voice and no action. Sometimes fear puts on a very nice tuxedo and pretends to be wisdom. Faith is defined by Webster’s 1828 dictionary as the assent of the mind or understanding to the truth of what God has revealed. Simple belief of the scriptures, of the being and perfections of God, and of the existence, character and doctrines of Christ, founded on the testimony of the sacred writers.

1 Kings 18:37 “Hear me, O Lord, hear me, that this people may know that You are the Lord God, and that You have turned their hearts back to You again.”

Kyle gave us five things to do when implementing a bold move of faith. (1) Make up your mind to follow God alone with your life and your likes (God’s Word, our prayers, our trials and experiences upon this journey). In 1 Kings 18:21, Elijah stood in front of the people and said, “How much longer will you waver, hobbling between two opinions? If the Lord is God, follow him! But if Baal is God, then follow him!” We cannot have one foot in t he God-rejecting world system and one foot in the faith. Know that this is what God wants to do, but also know that God has others to carry on … the body of Believers. (2) Have faith and a backup plan. Be “all in” with the Lord but have an “ace in the hole”. Daniel 3:17-18 “If we are thrown into the blazing furnace, the God whom we serve is able to save us. He will rescue us from your power, Your Majesty. But even if he doesn’t, we want to make it clear to you, Your Majesty, that we will never serve your gods or worship the gold statue you have set up.” Who really is God? Obey God and have a Plan “B” if the Lord doesn’t deliver our way. He may have a “better” plan in mind for us.

1 Corinthians 3:6-7 “I planted, Apollos watered, but God gave the increase. So then neither he who plants is anything, nor he who waters, but God who gives the increase.”

(3) By faith, plan for success, not failure. We tend to plan for the worst case scenario and think of reasons that it will not work. Think through the details, but include God 100%, with no tricks. The goal is never “a show”, but to bring people back to the Lord. Faithfully water and plant. (4) With faith, confront the Problems “head on”. It is naive to “hope for the best”. Life is not about avoiding conflicts in our life. We start confronting problem by looking at ourselves. We must always show grace and leave room for non-believing hearts to be transformed. (5) Leave room for God to do a miracle work of faith in the hardened heart. 1 Timothy 2:5 tells us, “For there is one God and one Mediator between God and men, the Man Christ Jesus.” We bring the light of the gospel of salvation by Christ to the lost and point to the foot of the Cross. The Holy Spirit changes the heart. John 16:8-9 “And when He (the Holy Spirit) has come, He will convict the world of sin, and of righteousness, and of judgment: of sin, because they do not believe in Me.”

2 Corinthians 5:7For we walk by faith, not by sight.


Webster’s defines evangelical, justifying, or “saving” faith, as the assent of the mind to the truth of divine revelation, on the authority of God's testimony, accompanied with a cordial assent of the will or approbation of the heart; an entire confidence or trust in God's character and declarations, and in the character and doctrines of Christ, with an unreserved surrender of the will to his guidance, and dependence on his merits for salvation. In other words, that firm belief of God's testimony, and of the truth of the gospel, which influences the will, and leads to an entire reliance on Christ for salvation.


The child of God walks by faith by God’s plan and in God’s hand. The Lord is God alone. See the amazing things that God is doing everyday and praise Him. It truly is the miracle of faith.


In Christ, Brian

Friday, April 22, 2016

Come Follow Jesus

Matthew 4:18-22 One day as Jesus was walking along the shore of the Sea of Galilee, he saw two brothers—Simon, also called Peter, and Andrew—throwing a net into the water, for they fished for a living. Jesus called out to them, “Come, follow me, and I will show you how to fish for people!” And they left their nets at once and followed him. A little farther up the shore he saw two other brothers, James and John, sitting in a boat with their father, Zebedee, repairing their nets. And he called them to come, too. They immediately followed him, leaving the boat and their father behind.

Our small group Bible Study began a new volume of lesson in the Ray Vander Laan “That the World May Know” series. Lay teacher and facilitator Steve led the faithful Wednesday evening group in this week’s interesting lesson of being a disciple of Jesus Christ. The lesson taught that “discipleship” was at the heart of Jesus’ ministry, so it’s not surprising that the word disciple is used more than 250 times in the New Testament. In fact, the New Testament is the story of disciples written by disciples who wanted to make disciples. And those disciples dramatically changed their world.

Matthew 28:19-20Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.” Amen.

But is the disciple-making mission of Jesus and his followers as clear, compelling, and effective nearly two thousand years later? Not really. Discipleship as Jesus and his followers knew it is not part of Western Christian culture today. Contemporary Christianity does not always make discipleship central to the faith. Sadly, many who call themselves Christians don’t even know what a disciple is. While they readily agree that it is essential to believe in Jesus as our Savior, we tend to treat his lordship in our lives (to observe all things that I have commanded you) as a desirable option, nice, but not essential. If we don’t recognize the importance of discipleship, we tend to think that obeying God’s commands is a worthwhile goal, but is less important than “being saved”.

 John 8:31-32, 34 Then Jesus said to those Jews who believed Him, “If you abide in My word, you are My disciples indeed. And you shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free. Most assuredly, I say to you, whoever commits sin is a slave of sin.”

Jesus and his disciples has a very different view of discipleship. They made no distinction between “being saved” and living in obedience to God. To be saved was to be totally committed to a life of obedience – to walk as Jesus walked, to become like Him. They did not do this in order “to be” saved, but rather because they “were” saved. Thus the goal of the community of Jesus is not to make converts but to make disciples. Salvation, of course, is essential, but it is the entrance to the path of discipleship rather than the final destination That is why the apostle James wrote: “Faith by itself, if not accompanied by action, is dead” James 2:17.

Mark 1:17 Jesus called out to them, “Come, follow me, and I will show you how to fish for people!” 

Just as God miraculously blessed the early disciples’ desire and commitment to become more like Jesus, God desires that same of us. He calls us to reclaim the ancient practice of discipleship that was central to Jesus’ life and message. Discipleship begins with belief, but that is only the beginning.  A disciple obeys the Rabbi’s teaching.  A Christian disciple not only believes Jesus is the Messiah, Son of God, and Savior but also is passionately devoted to doing what Jesus commands. So come, let’s walk in the footsteps of ancient disciples.

In Christ, Brian 

Thursday, April 21, 2016

Cling to Jesus

1 Timothy 1:19 “Cling to your faith in Christ, and keep your conscience clear. For some people have deliberately violated their consciences; as a result, their faith has been shipwrecked.”

I heard that Satan know that he is a defeated foe because of the death, resurrection and ascension of Jesus Christ. That whoever believes in Him, their blessed Savior is in the hand of the Lord, He has given them eternal life, and they shall never perish; He has given then eternal life. Neither shall anyone snatch them out of My handJohn 10:28.

The devil knows that it is only a matter of time till he is thrown into the “Lake of Fire” for eternity (Revelation 20:10), but he wants to increase the population of Hell by deceiving and taking as many of us as he can with him. Satan tempts and deceives with lies to distract our attention away from the only One who can save us from our sins and true life. I picture the devil with both hands upon us trying to pull us away as we cling with all our might with both arms around and hands clasped together, clinging for dear life to Jesus.

Where is our faith? Who is our Lord? Who or what are we clinging to? Jesus Christ is the Way, the Truth and the Life. Nobody comes to the Father except by Him alone (John 14:6).

Romans 8:35 “Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword?”

No one, when you cling to Jesus.

In Christ, Brian

Wednesday, April 20, 2016

Back to Basics- Part 2

Micah 6:8 But what doth the Lord require of thee, but to do justly, to love mercy, and to walk humbly with thy God.

Michael continues saying: Men and women of God sometimes need to be "humiliated" in order to learn the meaning of "humility." The antidote to pride is to give up the right to our own selves. We must discipline ourselves to find out whether or not we're committed. Commitment means a promise to do, give, and to be loyal ... resolute and not turning back. It means to want another's will instead of my own despite danger and hardship.  

In the book of Acts, Paul left Ephesus and headed toward Jerusalem where the Christians were being persecuted. Paul also had his heart set to go to Rome. On his journey, he stopped 40 miles north of Ephesus and wrote to the elders in Ephesus, "I preached the word boldly to you both in your houses and in large public gatherings.  I preached that men should repent and to come to faith in Jesus Christ for salvation."  Paul felt compelled to go to Jerusalem even though the elders tried to persuade him not to go.  Paul said, "I'm aware that sufferings await me in Jerusalem, however I count my life not dear to me.  Rather I count it joy to suffer for the Lord.  For me to live is Christ and to die is gain."  He said, "my only aim is to complete the task that God has given me ... To testify with my life on behalf of my Lord Jesus Christ."  Like Saint Francis said, "preach the gospel... When necessary, use words."

The life's goal of a child of God is that others may love Jesus Christ more because they spent time in His presence. As John the Baptist said, "I'm not the bridegroom.  I'm just here to introduce the bridegroom Jesus Christ to his bride, the church.  I must decrease that he may increase." The Apostle Paul's goal was to know Christ and to make him known. His commitment, duty and assignment were to live to the glory of his Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. As soldiers of the cross, our commitment is to stay at our post until our commander releases us to a new assignment. Our calling is our commitment to Jesus Christ to lift up the gospel of Jesus Christ. We've been called to our place in the wall to stand in the gap to assure God's protection and blessing.  

1 John 5:13 “These things I have written to you who believe in the name of the Son of God, that you may know that you have eternal life, and that you may continue to believe in the name of the Son of God.”

The joy of the Lord is our strength. What is our commitment? Let us then hear the conclusion of the whole matter. Love, honor, respect and reverence God and keep His commandments, for this is the whole duty of man.

May God richly bless you!
Your brother in Christ, Michael

Tuesday, April 19, 2016

Back to Basics- Part 1

1 Corinthians 12:14-18 “For in fact the body is not one member but many. If the foot should say, “Because I am not a hand, I am not of the body,” is it therefore not of the body? And if the ear should say, “Because I am not an eye, I am not of the body,” is it therefore not of the body? If the whole body were an eye, where would be the hearing? If the whole were hearing, where would be the smelling? But now God has set the members, each one of them, in the body just as He pleased.”

This week Michael writes: Living the Christian life is dependent on the basics. A disciple is a disciplined follower of the Master. The discipline is in the details.  It is deliberate, intentional and purposeful. In the game of life, the odds are that the team that makes the fewest mistakes will win. Each team member must master the fundamentals. The winning team depends on each individual to do his own job because they are truly interdependent. 

The Lord's army is a team. Each individual with their unique gifts must be disciplined to become like Christ. The soldier's commitment is to do exactly what his commanding officer says to do. Jesus said, "By this shall all men know that ye are my disciples, that you love one another." When we identify with Jesus Christ, our purpose is to align our hearts with His heart ... to delight ourselves in the Lord to will and to do of His good pleasure. When we're living by faith, the God-rejecting world system will say that we're impractical and illogical. The secular humanistic world's way is diametrically opposed to the Word's way. 

Psalm 1:1-3 Blessed is the man who walks not in the counsel of the ungodly, nor stands in the path of sinners, nor sits in the seat of the scornful; But his delight is in the law of the Lord, and in His law he meditates day and night. He shall be like a tree planted by the rivers of water, that brings forth its fruit in its season, whose leaf also shall not wither; And whatever he does shall prosper.”
A winning team needs a plan. However, the best plan is His plan and not our own plan.  To conform to the will of the Lord, we must surrender our pride in order to follow our commander in chief.  Psalm 31:15-17 says, “My times are in Your hand; Deliver me from the hand of my enemies, and from those who persecute me. Make Your face shine upon Your servant; Save me for Your mercies’ sake. Do not let me be ashamed, O Lord, for I have called upon You; Let the wicked be ashamed; Let them be silent in the grave.Our job is not to question the destination but rather to walk with Him one step at a time. The first and great commandment is to have no other gods between my face and God's face. God is looking for faithfulness and commitment from those who profess to follow Christ. We've been called to sacrifice, surrender, bow down and submit our hearts under the mighty hand of our Heavenly Father, Lord God. Jesus Christ himself is our commander in Chief.  

Let’s continue Michael’s message on being a disciplined follower of Jesus Christ on the next post.

Monday, April 18, 2016

The Mercy of the Lord

Psalm 145:8 “The Lord is gracious and full of compassion, slow to anger and great in mercy.”

The 1828 Webster’s Dictionary defines “mercy" as that benevolence, mildness or tenderness of heart which disposes a person to overlook injuries, or to treat an offender better than he deserves; the disposition that tempers justice, and induces an injured person to forgive trespasses and injuries, and to forbear punishment, or inflict less than law or justice will warrant. In this sense, there is perhaps no word in our language precisely synonymous with mercy. That which comes nearest to it is grace. It implies benevolence, tenderness, mildness, pity or compassion, and clemency, but exercised only towards offenders. Mercy is a distinguishing attribute of the Supreme Being.
I saw a devotional on mercy the other day that I expanded upon. The surprising fact to most is that not one of us deserves God’s mercy, for “we have turned every one to his own way” (Isaiah 53:60), and “all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God” (Romans 3:23). Because of our sin, what we deserve is death and eternal separation from Almighty God who made us. But God is merciful, so “it is of the Lord’s mercies that we are not consumed, because his compassions fail not” (Lamentations 3:22). “He hath not dealt with us after our sins . . . For as the heaven is high above the earth, so great is His mercy toward them that fear Him” (Psalm 103:10-11). By God’s mercy (not desiring to give us what we truly deserve for our sin), He gives us what we do not deserve … (unmerited favor) grace. This is the message of the gospel … the bad news turned into good news because of the Lord and His mercy towards us.

It is by His mercy, not our merit, that we are saved. “Not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to his mercy he saved us” (Titus 3:5). “But God, who is rich in mercy, because of His great love with which He loved us, even when we were dead in trespasses, made us alive together with Christ (by grace you have been saved)” (Ephesians 2:4-5). It is “according to His abundant mercy has begotten us again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead” (1 Peter 1:3).

In fact, one of the very titles of God is “the Father of mercies”, 2 Corinthians 1:3 says: “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort.” Over and over the psalmist assures us that “His mercy endureth forever”. His mercy is not only infinite, but eternal. I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service. And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind” (Romans 12:1-2). This is our reasonable service, our logical response to Creator Father God’s great mercy!

In Christ, Brian

Sunday, April 17, 2016

The Miracle of Provision – Part 2

Philippians 4:19 “My God will supply every need of yours according to His riches in glory in Christ Jesus.”

Continuing Pastor Kyle message on God’s Provision: The second thing  to remember about how the miracle of provision works is (2) Bad things still happen to those who trust God. Somehow, we get the notion that no believing Christian should ever get sick or life should never get worse, just improve and get better. Again, provision is not prosperity. But the truth is that since original sin, we live in a fallen world that is aging, decaying, experiencing natural disasters and ravaged by crimes, wars and tragedies this side of Heaven. Keep a light hand on this world and love one another because justice and true paradise are to come in glory. Matthew 5:45 “In that way, you will be acting as true children of your Father in heaven. For he gives his sunlight to both the evil and the good, and he sends rain on the just and the unjust alike.” Life is good because God is good and in control.

Job 10:12 “You gave me life and showed me kindness, and in your providence watched over my spirit.”

(3) God will work good out of the bad. In the Bible verse Romans 8:28 “And we know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose”, we find the miracle of faith is looking at bad moments up-side-down. My priceless cousin Laura, in battling cancer, said that we need to “Flip” the situation and look at it in reverse. Instead of asking: Why did this happen to me? In knowing of our salvation, that God is working His good in and through our situations, and the eternal perspective of heaven as our final destination, even when we may not see it at the time, we can flip it and say: In a fallen world, why would this happen to me and I’m glad that it happened to me instead of my loved ones. I wonder what God is going to bring about on this trial. We have blessed assurance on our side because of Jesus.

Ephesians 2:1-6 “And you were dead in your trespasses and sins, in which you formerly walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, of the spirit that is now working in the sons of disobedience. Among them we too all formerly lived in the lusts of our flesh, indulging the desires of the flesh and of the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, even as the rest. But God, being rich in mercy, because of His great love with which He loved us, even when we were dead in our transgressions, made us alive together with Christ (by grace you have been saved), and raised us up with Him, and seated us with Him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus.

Kyle gave us two questions to consider about the miracle of provision. (1) Is there a step of obedience God wants us to take today? In all of our life and in everything that we think, say and do, trust God and align our definition of blessing with God’s definition. We find contentment in doing what God is asking us to do, even our finances and giving. Malachi 3:6-7 says, “I the Lord do not change. So you, the descendants of Jacob, are not destroyed. Ever since the time of your ancestors you have turned away from my decrees and have not kept them. Return to me, and I will return to you,” says the Lord Almighty. (2) Is the miracle something God wants to do in my circumstances or in my heart? If God doesn’t get you a miracle, then He wants you to go be a miracle to someone else. Trust and put the kingdom of God first. Your heavenly Father Lord God provides in spite of ourselves (a sinner saved by grace). We need to change from running “from” God to running “to” God, and always remember Jesus’ sacrifice for us - our greatest provision.  

Hebrews 11:39-12:2 “And all these, having gained approval through their faith, did not receive what was promised, because God had provided something better for us, so that apart from us they would not be made perfect. Therefore, since we have so great a cloud of witnesses surrounding us, let us also lay aside every encumbrance and the sin which so easily entangles us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of faith, who for the joy set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.

Our prayer is not for God to give us more than we need, but to meet all of our needs.

In Christ, Brian

Saturday, April 16, 2016

The Miracle of Provision – Part 1

2 Kings 17:9-18 The Israelites secretly did things against the Lord their God that were not right. From watchtower to fortified city they built themselves high places in all their towns. They set up sacred stones and Asherah poles on every high hill and under every spreading tree. At every high place they burned incense, as the nations whom the Lord had driven out before them had done. They did wicked things that aroused the Lord’s anger. They worshiped idols, though the Lord had said, “You shall not do this.” The Lord warned Israel and Judah through all his prophets and seers: “Turn from your evil ways. Observe my commands and decrees, in accordance with the entire Law that I commanded your ancestors to obey and that I delivered to you through my servants the prophets.” But they would not listen and were as stiff-necked as their ancestors, who did not trust in the Lord their God. They rejected his decrees and the covenant he had made with their ancestors and the statutes he had warned them to keep. They followed worthless idols and themselves became worthless. They imitated the nations around them although the Lord had ordered them, “Do not do as they do.” They forsook all the commands of the Lord their God and made for themselves two idols cast in the shape of calves, and an Asherah pole. They bowed down to all the starry hosts, and they worshiped Baal. They sacrificed their sons and daughters in the fire. They practiced divination and sought omens and sold themselves to do evil in the eyes of the Lord, arousing his anger. So the Lord was very angry with Israel and removed them from his presence.

Last Sunday, Pastor Kyle continued in his sermon serious on “Miracles”. The fallen world in the time of Kings seems to be the same as the fallen world today. Who really is God of this world? Yet, Creator Father God continues to work throughout history – Jehovah Jireh; God our Provider. This side of eternity, there will be times that we feel like we are being persecuted  and punished for doing “right”, but knowing that we have nowhere else to turn but “up”, we need to see God’s hand in all of our moments, remembering the provisioning promises from the Lord to those who put God’s kingdom first.

Romans 8:28 “And we know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose.”

Kyle gave us four things to remember about how the miracle of God’s provision works. (1) God provides as we put His kingdom first in your life. Before putting into our own kingdom, put into God’s kingdom, even in hard times. Matthew 6:19-21 “Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal, but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.” Know that you are blessed already; take care of God’s needs before taking care of self and others. Blessing = more than enough to go around ... not rich! God’s provision: “Give us this day our daily bread” does not mean bigger and better standards of living. It’s not about magnificent houses, luxury cars, marvelous toys, fine clothes and glorious shoes, extravagant watches or superb jewelry ... that’s the idol “greed”. In the wise words of philosopher Zachry Alexander Brown: “It’s funny how it's the little things in life that mean the most. Not where you live, what you drive or the price tag on your clothes. There's no dollar sign on a piece of mind; this I've come to know.” Provision is not prosperity. We can’t take it when we go, so focus on where you are going and what you do along the road to get there.

Proverbs 30:8-9 “Keep falsehood and lies far from me; give me neither poverty nor riches, but give me only my daily bread. Otherwise, I may have too much and disown you and say, ‘Who is the Lord?’ Or I may become poor and steal, and so dishonor the name of my God.”

Let’s stop here for the day and pick up right here on the next post.

In Christ, Brian